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Opinion

Budget 2018 signals a new vision for nature conservation in Canada

By Faisal Moola, Robin Roth      

'Environmentalists have described these [budget] investments as historic. They are. But just as significant as the dollar amount committed to nature conservation, is the federal government’s recognition of Indigenous-led conservation in Canada.'

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s decision to make nature conservation a priority in the federal budget is groundbreaking and long overdue, write Professors Faisal Moola and Robin Roth. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Despite its natural bounty and the significance of nature to our national identity, Canada has badly lagged other countries in the protection of ecosystems and wildlife habitat. To date, we have protected only 10.6 per cent of our terrestrial ecosystems and inland waters and less than 5 per cent of our marine areas. Among OECD countries we rank 17th out of 25 in the proportion of lands protected, despite the global importance of Canadian lands and seascapes as habitat for iconic wildlife, such as polar bears, caribou and orca. Equally problematic is that Canada spends far less than neighboring jurisdictions on nature conservation. For example, an analysis by the B.C. Wildlife Federation has found that western US states spend 10 times more per area, and six times more per capita on wildlife conservation programs than B.C. and Alberta. Wildlife doesn’t recognize political borders and thus this deficit in funding is a direct threat to important transboundary populations, from threatened grizzly bears to monarch butterflies.

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